New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told employees that he is seeking “significant cost savings” throughout the company’s media group, including buyouts that would encourage news employees to retire early.
“These are financially challenging times,” Sulzberger said in a memo to employees. “The advertising climate remains volatile and we don’t see this changing in the near future.”
The Times has struggled with an industrywide slump in newsprint advertising, leading to six straight years of shrinking sales. While the New York-based company has had success getting readers to sign up for online subscriptions, that hasn’t made up for the advertising decline.
Sulzberger is looking to cut 30 newsroom positions, Executive Editor Jill Abramson wrote in a separate note to employees. She will have to eliminate staff if enough people don’t volunteer, she said. The Times has a total of about 1,100 newsroom employees.
The company’s new chief executive officer, Mark Thompson, presided over a cost-cutting effort at the British Broadcasting Corp. Under his leadership, the commercial-free network --funded by fees from U.K. television viewers -- eliminated jobs and moved offices and production to cheaper locations. The BBC has cut more than 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in spending since 2008.
At the New York Times, the business side of operations has already been reduced by more than 60 percent in recent years, Abramson said. While the Times newsroom lost around 100 positions in 2008 through buyouts and eliminations, “the newsroom has been spared the worst of it,” she said. New hires for digital operations also has offset some of those eliminations, according to Abramson.
“We must make some difficult decisions to lower our costs,” Sulzberger told employees. “Our business-side colleagues will continue their efforts to find staff reductions and other efficiencies, but it is now impossible not to look also within the ranks of our news operations.”
Shares of the company were little changed in New York trading today, closing at $8.12. The stock has climbed 5 percent this year.